How to Become a Steadicam Operator

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Creating motion pictures is a complex process and requires a variety of highly specialized camera equipment. Steadicams are stabilizing mounts for cameras that minimize and reduce unsteady motion and highly skilled professionals are required to operate this equipment. This is the job of steadicam operators.


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What does a steadicam operator do?

Steadicam operators mount a harness to camera equipment and carry the equipment to create a clear picture for a variety of motion picture scenes. They strive to limit the amount of unintentional movements. They manipulate camera equipment by hand and provide stability and prevent shaking. Steadicam operators hold equipment to provide a clear and smooth picture, even while they are walking around and moving on uneven surfaces. They enable directors and producers to obtain superior shots such as up-close shots and action scenes. Steadicam operators often work for motion picture production companies, but some provide their services on a freelance basis.

What kind of training does a steadicam operator need?

Steadicam operators must have at least a high school diploma, but most employers prefer candidates with formal postsecondary training and some camera operation experience. Many steadicam operators complete their education through film schools, colleges, and universities. Prospective steadicam operators learn how to frame shots, change lenses, and focus camera equipment. Many steadicam operators start their careers as assistants to gain practical experience in the field. They move on to operator positions as they acquire the necessary skills. Some employers provide some on the job training, but most expect steadicam operators to have a solid understanding of the required job duties. Steadicam operators complete additional training and continuing education as needed throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a steadicam operator?

Employment for steadicam operators is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 11% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and expansion of the motion picture industry will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good with keen competition. Steadicam operators with extensive experience and advanced skills will have the best job opportunities.

How much do steadicam operators make?

As of March 2010, the average annual salary for steadicam operators is $20,000; average steadicam operator salaries for nationwide job postings are 69% lower than the average salaries for all nationwide job postings (2).

A career as a steadicam operator is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in the motion picture industry and the use of steadicam equipment. Steadicam operators must have a solid understanding of the use of steadicam equipment and ability to minimize motion. Physical stamina, good eyesight, eye-hand coordination, creativity, and detail orientation are necessary characteristics. Steadicam operators must have good communication and the ability to work with a variety of film staff. They must be able to stand on their feet for long periods of time and have the ability to make difficult adjustments while carrying heavy equipment.

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